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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 29

To Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in the Federal Parliament assembled:

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:

  We hereby express our serious concerns about a recent press report, delivered from Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre Canberra, telling us that the Venerable THICH TUE SI (born name: PHAM VAN THUONG) is suffering of severe sciatica pain, resulting from conditions of continuously hard labor forcibly applied to him who naturally is very weak and has a small body. Without urgent and proper treatment by the Vietnamese authority that has held him in jail since 1984, Thich Tue Sy may become disabled or may even die. He is at Xuan Phuoc Re-education Camp in Phu Yen Province, central Vietnam.

  A respected writer, poet, Buddhist philosopher and university professor before and after 1975, Thich Tue Sy was arrested in April 1984 because of his involvement in a non-violent movement for human rights and democracy for Vietnam. He was given DEATH SENTENCE in September 1988 by the Vietnamese Communist Government (VCG) which has since commuted his sentence 20 YEARS IMPRISONMENT after a worldwide campaign of enormous pressure and very strong opposition to Hanoi leaders about capital sentence.

  Born in the early 40's and becoming a young Buddhist novice in Pakse, Laos in the 50s, the talented Thich Tue Sy quickly become well known as one of few best Buddhist scholars in southern Vietnam since early 60's after returning motherland from Laos to Hue, then Saigon, to lecture at the Unified Buddhist Congregation in Vietnam (UBCV)-operated-Van Hanh Buddhist University, which was in 1975 confiscated and misused by the VCG, as were most of other UBCV's properties and institutions elsewhere in the whole country.

  Thich Tue Sy, and his close mate Thich Tri Sieu, have been sponsored by Amnesty International as `prisoners of conscience'. Western Governments and many international organisations have campaigned for the unconditioned release of both for many years, but these campaign have failed due to VCG's hardline leaders' policy. World media is continuing to report that, despite some economic reformation, the dictated Hanoi Government still denies all civil liberty, suppresses all basic human rights and especially keeps an unreasonably hostile attitude and an unnecessarily hatred actions toward the Buddhist community, which is about 80% of a rapidly growing population of 72.5 millions, by, in one hand, stamping down the traditionally legitimacy and politic-free UBCV's systems, structure and personnel (i.e. the UBCV's Patriarch, Thich Huyen Quan, is kept in home custody since 1982), and in another hand, eagerly intervening and closely controlling its own created Vietnam Buddhist Church, as well as preventing this `puppet and politicized' Church to reconcile with the UBCV.

  Your petitioners therefore pray that the Senate asks that the Australian Government

1.  To request the VCG, in general, to improve the living conditions of its hundreds of jails and `re-education' camps in Vietnam, managed by central government, provincial and districts levels, and in particular, to allow all religious and political prisoners, including monks Thich Tue Sy, Thich Tri Sieu, Thich Hai Tang, Thich Tri Tuu, Thich Hai Thinh, Thich Hanh Duc, Professor Doan Viet Hoat, Dr Nguyen Dan Que and many others to receive adequate medical treatments and food rations, and have a reasonable working routine in safe conditions.

2.  To add into the `working program` of its soon-to-go-to-Vietnam Australian Human Rights Delegation some practical requests, such as an interview to the UBCV's Patriarch or his nominated Elder/s, some visits to jails and re-education camps in northern, central and southern Vietnam, and its directly and freely convey gifts from some Australian citizens to all or some of the above mentioned (or others) prisoners.

3.  To send more official representations to Hanoi requesting that its severely hostile policies towards the UBCV have to be verifiably reduced or discontinued by: A) unconditionally releasing Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang from home custody, stop using government media and press to falsely denounce him and condemn the UBCV, B) allowing Thich Huyen Quang and other Elders to restore and lead their UBCV whilst all of its properties have to be properly returned to the UBCV or to other previous owners, C) cancelling its plots of politicizing Buddhism by 1) not forcing Buddhist organisations to become parts of the Party's Fatherland Front, 2) not forcing well-known monks to become politicians and public servants, etc.,3) stop playing `divide and rule' games and creating mutual-misunderstandings VBC amongst and UBCV and let them freely manage their necessary reconciliation and re-unity, and 4) practice the complete separation and non-mutual-intervention between the role of the State and Churches; D) to re-try all religious figures, particularly the UBCV's, who have been unjustly, unfairly, indefensibly sentenced in the last 19 years, with their own lawyers, such as Venerables Thich Tue Sy, Thich Tri Sieu, Thich Hal Tang, Thich Tri Tuu, Thich Hai Thinh, Hanh Duc, etc, and to release all political and religious prisoners who are still in jail without any trial.

  And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

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